10 Nov 2012

Select committee approves tougher bail laws

4:19 pm on 10 November 2012

A proposed law change could mean serious and repeat offenders aged 18 and 19 will face the same tests as adults in seeking bail.

Under the current Bail Act, the onus is at present on the Crown to convince a judge that bail should be denied to younger offenders.

The Bail Amendment Bill has been approved by a majority of Law and Order Committee and would remove the strong presumption in favour of bail for 17- to 19-year-olds.

The committee went further and recommended that 18- and 19-year-olds be required to make a case to the judge for release on bail, and should face the same tests as adults.

The law change also means children under 14 who breach bail conditions can be arrested by the police without officers needing to file for a warrant.

Committee chair Jacqui Dean says the proposed changes reflect a trend for 18- and 19-year-olds to be viewed as adults by the courts.

Ms Dean, a National Party MP, says the committee's main concern was public safety.

The select committee heard 285 submissions, including one from the parents of the Auckland teenager Christie Marceau who was killed by 19-year-old Akshay Chand while he was on bail.